Software is the Cost Effective Branding Tool, Stellantis

While BEV powertrains and increasingly modular vehicle production challenge the automaker’s ability to differentiate its products, software could hold the answer.

That’s the opinion of Stellantis’s chief software officer, Yves Bonnefort, who believes branding in the connected car rests as much with its connectivity suite as with the badge on the vehicle’s bonnet. Speaking at the Paris Motor Show 2022, he told TU-Automotive: “We believe that software is a very powerful way to differentiate because you can abstract some of the hardware and then you can create a number of applications that are dedicated to a brand.”

Bonnefort cited the example of the iconic off-road brand Jeep whose connectivity capabilities can enhance the consumer experience especially for those who want to venture off into the wilds. He explained: “If you take the example of a Jeep, you can create a function which we call a Jeep convoy, by which your GPS system is constantly pointing towards a car that is in front of you. Plus, you can create communications between the two cars. They can talk to each other, even if they’re out of the cellular network.”

He said the same technology can be tweaked to enhance UX in the group’s other brands to match their own consumer’s profile. For instance, he added: “I can take the exact same building blocks of software and I can give it, say, a friends and family flavor and I can put it on a Citroën or maybe a Fiat and say, okay now we have two bunch of friends who go out together on weekends, they want to stop by at the same restaurant to have lunch or on the same gas station to have a coffee and refuel together. Or I’m going to, maybe, share music and, on the way, we can listen to the same music it’s my playlist I’m sharing with you on your account.”

Even for one of the group’s sporting brands, such as Alfa Romeo, the software connectivity can boost the brand’s special appeal, for example, on a track-day outing. Bonnefort said: “With the same system of sharing between the two cars from Alfa Romeo, I’m going to share my best lap on the track. We go together on a track and I’m going to tell you know by my best lap is 1:01. Can you beat me? So, it is the same bricks, same software bricks and then it is the application layer where you give the brand touch. I think this is very, very important because all the brands of the group are so strong and we don’t want to dilute the brands or our strength as a group.”

He also pointed to the cost savings of using software to differentiate brands as opposed to expensive hardware. Bonnefort explained: “If I now say, okay, I think about your brand’s headlamp and I want to do this lamp that is going to be very, very different from an Alfa Romeo. It could end up being millions of euros of capital expenditure for the tooling and everything is going to be months, if not years, of development. With software, I can do this in months for limited investment. So, it’s an efficient and fast way of creating things that are really targeted.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *